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The Young and The Phiery: Rafael Marchan

The Overlooked and Underrated Phillies Catching Prospect that is not named Logan O’Hoppe

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals
Phillies Catching Prospect Rafael Marchan during a game against the Washington Nationals in August 2021
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Setting the Scene

Before the rise of Logan O'Hoppe took the Phillies Organization and Major League Baseball by storm, there was Rafael Marchan. Marchan has not gone anywhere by any overdramatic opening statement. The Venezuelan backstop made his MLB debut during the shortened 2020 Pandemic season. Former Phillies manager Joe Girardi, a former catcher, was impressed with Marchan's catching ability which is why he received Spring Training invitations in 2020 and 2021.

At 23 years old and returning from injury, the Venezuelan catcher is working his way back to full strength in Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Overall, Marchan is a smaller-size catching prospect but has the great pitch-framing ability and an arm that allows him to direct a staff and throw out a lot of runners. Rafael Marchan is a good hitter for contact purposes but not for much power. He can impact the bottom of a lineup but will not be cranking 20+ homers a season like J.T. Realmuto.

The Numbers

The San Cristobel native has played for two seasons in the majors. He started the 2022 Season on the 60-Day IL but has played consistently for the Iron Pigs since early June.

2020-2021 Major League Stat Line: 23 G, 16 H, .267 BA, .323 OBP, .417 SLG, .740 OPS, 7 RBIs, 2 HR.

2022 Triple-A Stat Line: 20 G, 16 H, .213 BA, .294 OBP, .387 SLG, .681 OPS, 10 RBIs, and 2 HR.

Marchan is not lighting the world on fire with his current stat line, but his fielding and contact abilities indicate MLB readiness.

What to Expect?

Rafael Marchan is a young and capable catching prospect with elite pitch-framing abilities. Despite his lack of power, Rafael Marchan never hit a homer in the minors. He hit his first professional home run at the MLB level. So, he does have some pop to hit the ball out of the park. His professional career has generally molded him into a decent OBP/BA hitter.

One of the most formidable catchers in Phillies History is Carlos "Chooch" Ruiz. The Panamanian backstop never hit 20+ homers in his career, but he had a .260+ BA consistently throughout his career. Ruiz received MVP votes in three seasons, showing the value of a high-contact catcher with great fielding ability.

Most Phillies catchers are not hitting 20+ homers a season. For the most part, Lieberthal, Daulton, Boone, and Dalrymple were lucky to break double-digits in home runs. The outliers, Lieberthal and Daulton, hit 20+ a couple of times in their careers.

*J.T. Realmuto has hit 20+ homers twice in his career and only once with the Phillies.

Bryce's Injury Changes the Scene

The Bryce Harper thumb fracture opens up more options at DH for the Phillies. Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos, Rhys Hoskins, Alec Bohm, and J.T. Realmuto will all get time as the designated hitter. Since J.T. has shown signs of deteriorating ability, or maybe he is just in a funk, but if it's the former, then Marchan should move up.

At the backstop position, Marchan can platoon with Garrett Stubbs while Realmuto DHs, which would allow them more flexibility all around the horn. This promotion would enable Logan O'Hoppe to move up to Triple-A and accelerate his growth with those everyday reps.

As of this article's publication, O'Hoppe is currently batting: .273 BA, .381 OBP, .531 SLG, .912 OPS, 14 HR, and 39 RBIs. O'Hoppe has a .184 BA, .262 OBP, .289 SLG, 1 HR, and 2 RBIs in his last ten games. This move could be too soon. Allowing the New York-born catcher time to work out of his funk in Double-A might be the better decision.

Nevertheless, the Phillies will probably not carry three catchers on the 26-man roster. The Phils have more pressing matters in the infield, outfield, and pitching need that spot. The idea of Marchan returning to the big leagues is enticing for the different opportunities in the lineup it provides.

In the end, the Phillies will only do this if it is necessary to give J.T. more hitting reps than fielding reps. Realmuto seems to be turning the corner and has shown better defense and hitting. Hopefully, the BCIB can return to form consistently. If not, it is comforting to know that there is a fully capable backstop with MLB experience who can assist Garrett Stubbs.

Last Weeks Discussion: Thank you to all the commenters on the Mickey Moniak edition of The Young and The Phiery! Great chat!

Discussion Question(s): How would you like the Stubbs/Marchan platoon with J.T. DH-ing? What other In-House roster move would you make to bolster the lineup?